Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Flick of the Day

Ocean Beach

That is the dumbest name for a beach I have ever heard. I think it's pointless to have named something ocean beach. Whoever named it was clearly bored and had run out of ideas.

So here i am in the middle of Starbucks™ having a debate about why that is the dumbest name for a beach ever. My reasoning is that there is no need to put the word ocean in front of beach; it is already implied. Even if you don't know that you're going to an ocean, you know there is going to be some body of water involved with a beach.

Nevertheless, this is a photo of the oh so beautiful but ever so dumbly named Ocean Beach, in San Francisco.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Flick of the Day

Las Fallas

There was no way I was going to miss out on this. After at first being disheartened by the fact that there was no space available at any of the hostels (yes, hostels!) that all of my friends would be staying at, I thought I couldn't go. But then, in what was surely some sort of sign (ok not really, more just like a convenient coincedence), someone backed out of the trip and offered me their spot! I was going to Las Fallas, a yearly celebration held in Valencia, Spain.

So I'll be the first to admit that I didn't really know what the Fallas were about, but that was beside the point; I had to go. After getting my lodging and bus ticket all squared away, I turned to my school schedule as an after thought. Another sign: we had a project due on the day I was scheduled to leave. Great.

I don't know what I was expecting when I sent my professor an email, telling her the truth about why I wouldn't be in class the upcoming Thursday and pleading to either turn in the project early or take half credit to turn it in late. But no, she said it simply couldn't be done, and that it would be unfair to the other students who were attending class that day. Ha! Little did she know, 75% of the class was going to be on the same bus that I was, heading to the celebration! Shouldn't my honesty have counted for something? I guess not, since honesty is supposedly its own reward (or some zen saying like that).

Needless to say, I packed up my bag and went, practicing what I had learned from numerous yoga classes: clearing my mind of all my problems. We arrived at the end of the week-long celebration, walking around and taking pictures and reveling in the magnificence that were the Fallas. The picture above can only hint at the sheer magnitude of these constructions. Almost as tall as average four-story apartment buildings, they stood towering in the middle of streets and causing the flow of the entire city to yield to them. And the best part? At the end of the festival, the burn them! Yes, set them on fire! Personally, I think that's where the name was derived from, not the Latin root word for torch as history suggests. It's one of the best bonfires I have ever attended, with thousands of people swarming the streets to watch the fallas burn.

So, even though I missed out on some credit for one of my projects, I got to experience something that I may never have the opportunity to again. And I did it with people who are now my close friend, with whom I can share a cherished memory forever.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Flick of the Day

A Slice of Life

London-town. I had been left to my own devices to explore the metropolitan city, since I wasn't meeting up with my friend until the next day. I didn't want to see anything too touristy, since I was sure we'd hit all the major sights together. So I walked around aimlessly, just taking in the city's vibes. I had heard great things about their salsa dancing scene, but that wouldn't be for at least another 6 hours.

It was raining, but I wasn't complaining since that was part of the London charm; always dreary and lively at the same time. After only having arrived fresh off the train a couple hours ago, I could attest to the vibrancy of the place. People were hustling and bustling, and it was swamped with tourists like myself. But I wanted to avoid them, and snatch a peek into the everyday life of a Londoner.

That's when I found it. Somewhere in the midst of the tourist-saturated path was this skate park, if that's what you'd call it. The graffiti pulled me in first, then the teens on their skateboards and bikes are what kept my attention. It was like they didn't seem to notice or care about all the commotion around them, they were just here to do their thing. And most of them did it pretty well. I knew it wasn't a show or tourist trap, because there wasn't anywhere to leave a tip for the amazing show they were putting on. I just watched, snapped a few pictures, and shouted some compliments when I decided it was time to move on to my next destination.

As someone who is blessed to travel quite often, I am always looking for that window into the heart of the place I'm visiting, a slice of life that they're accustomed to living. I found it that day in London, and later on that night when I went salsa dancing somewhere off of Tottenham Rd.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Flick of the Day

5 hours. That's how long we had been riding. And I knew i shouldn't complain since all I had to do was sit there and be a passenger but honestly, I was getting more carsick by the minute. Or should I say vansick. We were in a white 12 passenger van, and there was an eclectic mix of characters: the three Italians who kept up a steady stream of chatter; a couple whose origin I was unsure about but they seemed nice enough; a French-Asian couple who were sweet and helped with translating english to French; the lone German traveler who was down for anything; the driver who took the curves on the mountain path as if we were in a Mercedes AMG; and lastly, my two friends and I who were on the same study abroad program and had decided to travel together to Morocco.

We had collectively decided to take a trip to the Sahara desert to ride camels and sleep under the stars. But the drive from Marrakech to our middle-of-nowhere destination was estimated to take 8 hours. Which meant we were little more than halfway through. I was getting crankier as the day went by, with our trek having started at 7am. It had started out freezing cold in the morning but had progressively warmed up, which was making my stomach even more queasy. I'd had every intention of sleeping the entire ride, but quickly discovered that was going to be impossible since we stopped every hour, and my seat was by the van's only sliding door exit.

Needless to say, I wasn't the least bit surprised when we coasted to a stop. I slowly cracked open one eye, selfishly thinking that if I just pretended to be asleep the other passengers could figure out a way to go around me. But Peri, my English friend from University, reached over and tapped my shoulder saying, "I think you'll want to see this."

She was right.

When I stepped outside of the van, I saw this beautiful city on a hill. Our driver/tour guide called it a kasbah. It was an amazing sight, and seemed to rise out of nowhere. We were allowed to go into the kasbah to explore town. In order to access it, we had to cross a shallow stream on sandbags that had been turned into makeshift stepping stones. It was like a scene from a movie, in every way.

The photo above is of the kasbah, somewhere along the route from Marrakech to the Sahara. Just typing those words, I realize how fortunate I was to have such an experience. That stop gave me a better attitude to make it the rest of the journey in the van, and even though I still wished we had had air-conditioning, I looked forward to more stops and adventures.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Story of my life...

"You're about to do hot yoga?" she asked.

"Bikram yoga," I thought to myself, but instead replied with a simple "yes."

"Oh man," she complained into the phone. "That's going to take forever, and I haven't talked to you in such a long time! Didn't you see my missed call earlier? I was calling to tell you that I couldn't talk to you right then but..." I started to space out on her conversation, which was clearly one-sided at the moment. I was standing in the middle of the yoga studio locker room, half undressed and trying to hurry in order get a good spot inside.

"Hey Amira, let me call you back as soon as class is over ok?" I had cut her off mid sentence, but that didn't deter her the least bit.

"Huh? Oh ok well, you know when you're supposed to be laying there all still, and clearing your mind and forgetting your problems? Don't do it, ignore what the teacher says, and think of everything you have to tell me instead."

I laughed, "Ok ok, now get off of my phone." It was what I always said to hurry her off the phone, but she knew it was out of love. Amira was one of my best friends, and she knew the meanings behind all of my seemingly hurtful phrases. That's one of the reasons we worked so well and had stayed friends for so long. She just got me.

Standing alone in the locker room, I realized I was late for class. Great. I hated walking in late, and I would definitely be blaming Amira for this later. I finished getting dressed, grabbed my mat and darted toward class.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Flick of the Day

Parisian Flowers

I don't assume that everyone has looked through all 1700+ of my photos on my Facebook page (or that you're even my friend), so I have decided to showcase a photo from my library daily, along with the story of the will justly be called the "Flick of the Day."

The photo featured today is from just outside of the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. I was so enraptured by the garden that sits alongside the iconic church, I had to take a picture. With the sun shining radiantly down on me, as if being in the garden was a blessing in itself, I felt...fulfilled. Of course, the feeling only lasted for the day and after I was on to seek new and even more amazing things, promising never to be satisfied on this journey of life, vowing never to stop yearning for the immaculate beauty I've been granted the senses to behold.